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Parable of the Soils Study #11:

“The Four Different Soils in John Chapters 2 and 3”

 By Richard Allen – January 15, 2024

As I finish this series of Blogs on: The Parable of the Soils over the next few weeks, it’s important for us to see this Parable in Action – especially in the Preaching and Sowing Ministry of Jesus, our Savior. There are multiple places in Scripture I could quote showing these different types of Soil, but no place does a better job demonstrating these different Soils in real time, than the Gospel of John, Chapters 2 and 3.

It’s interesting that the Gospel of John is the only Gospel of the four that does not display Jesus’ teaching on The Parable of the Soils. In itself this is not unusual, as there are several things that make John’s Gospel unique. John’s Gospel also does not include Christ’s prophetic words on the Mount of Olives as recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 – often called “The Olivet Discourse.” So, if The Parable of the Soils was critical to understand Jesus’ Kingdom teaching, it’s notable that this Parable is nowhere to be found in John’s Gospel. Yet I’m convinced that John’s Gospel narrative does include the next best thing to the actual Parable of the Soils. This Parable is demonstrated in the “Early Sowing Ministry of Jesus” from His First Miracle in Cana in John Chapter 2, through Jesus’ ministry in the life of a Pharisee named, Nicodemus, recorded in John Chapter 3.  Over the span of these two chapters, John demonstrates The Parable of the Soils in action! Our story begins in John Chapter 2:

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you’ ” (John 2:1-5).

Many Bible commentators ask what the significance is of the first statement: “On the third day.” While the Apostle John certainly has intent, it’s hard to determine exactly what it was. It clearly was not the “third day” of Christ’s ministry as some suppose.  Most likely it’s the third day of the week, or the third day of the wedding feast. We need to understand that in first century Israel, wedding festivities lasted a full week. That may explain why they were “out of wine,” as the festivities ran much longer than our present-day wedding receptions. It’s not only Jesus’ response to His mother’s complaint that they’re out of wine, but her next actions tell us there is more going on here than meets the eye:

“ ‘Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you ” (John 2:4-5).

From the rest of the narrative, we know that Jesus would perform His first public miracle – turning water into wine, and yet, only the servants and His disciples, along with His mother, knew that He had performed something miraculous.  It’s important that we see this was the first sign Jesus did in Galilee, manifesting His Glory. And this engendered faith from His disciples:

“This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And His disciples believed in him(John 2:11).

From Acts 2:22 we hear and understand the importance of “signs and wonders” in the ministry of Jesus. In Peter’s address on Pentecost, he stated:

“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know” (Acts 2:22).

I ask all my readers to pay attention to how this word, “signs” is used over the next two chapters in John’s Gospel, Chapters 2 and 3. Throughout these two chapters many saw Jesus’ miraculous works.  We know that His disciples were obviously “drawn by the Spirit of God” (except for Judas Iscariot), to Christ. They all saw Jesus’ Miracles and Believed.  Yet as we’ll see, only His disciples received the “testimony” (Seed) of the Gospel, showing their hearts to be Good Soil – changed by the Plow of Regeneration!  Their eyes and ears had been opened to see and hear the “Effectual Call of the Gospel.” These disciples were Good-Hearted Hearers,” producing a harvest!

Afterward, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. When He arrived, Jesus went into the outer court of the Temple, and finding those who sold oxen, sheep and pigeons, He drove out the animals and overturned the tables where they exchanged money for their sacrifice. The merchants in the outer court were selling livestock to the faithful, overcharging those who had traveled great distances, by selling animals to be offered in the outer court of the Temple. They were making a good living off those who came to worship God. So, it’s understandable that they weren’t happy with Jesus’ actions. They asked Him: “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” (John 2:18). In reality, they were asking: “Who gave you the authority to rebuke our behavior?  If it was God, then show us a sign to prove it!” These men had in fact witnessed a sign from Jesus, the Son of God, but they also saw the fulfillment of a prophecy from Psalm 69:9 which said: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” So, Jesus gives a sign:

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). Rightly understood, Jesus tells them that the only sign they’ll get is His Resurrection!  These men had hearts hardened like a much used “cart path” through a farmer’s field – and the Word (Seed) of the Kingdom would not penetrate or germinate.  As we’ve learned from The Parable of the Soils, these men were Hard-Hearted Hearers.”  No doubt Satan quickly took away the Word sown in their hearts.

There’s no better place to see the “Hard-Hearted Hearers’ ” blindness than the follow-up conversation after Jesus gave them the sign of His Resurrection:

“So, the Jews said to him, ‘What sign do you show us for doing these things?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’  The Jews then said, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the Word that Jesus had spoken” (John 2:18-22).

These “Hard-Hearted Hearers” could only see and understand the physical structure of the Temple before them – they were Spiritually Blind to see anything else.  Notice what it says of the “Good-Hearted Hearers” in verse 22:  They remembered later that Jesus had spoken the Word of the Kingdom, and they Believed the Scripture and the Word (Seed) Jesus had sown! This clearly shows that they saw the sign of Jesus’ actions in the outer court, and they received the Word of the Kingdom and Believed the Scripture and Jesus’ own Word! The Seed certainly was 1.) Received, 2.) Germinated, 3.) Grew unfettered by the cares of this life – or even the “naturalistic” understanding of their Jewish traditions, and 4.) Produced a Harvest of Faith! The Apostle John is not done yet. The last two verses of John Chapter 2 record an amazing account of Fruitless Professors, that is, “Shallow-Hearted Hearers:”

“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25).

I’m sure that some of the zealous “soul-winners” in our day would think Jesus needed a lesson in presenting the Gospel effectively. Jesus appears to be winning over the Passover crowd in Jerusalem to His cause. They are ready to “seal-the-deal” and actually have “believed in His name.”  Yet, Jesus doesn’t entrust Himself to them, pulling away from their endorsement and faith.  “What gives?”  Either Jesus doesn’t know how to preach the Gospel or something was wrong with their “so-called faith.”  It’s definitely the latter, their faith is no more real than the crowd who followed him across the Sea of Tiberius – all because he fed them loaves and fishes (John 6:25-71).  As The Parable of the Soils has taught us, not all faith is Saving Faith!  These Shallow-Hearted Hearers did not receive the Seed (Word) of the Kingdom.  Their hearts were like a “thin layer of soil” over a large flatbed of rock that could receive no seed. Only by God breaking up their “fallow and unplowed hearts” by the Work of the Holy Spirit in Regeneration, would the Word of the Kingdom (i.e. the Seed) be able to penetrate their hearts. Like “Shallow-Hearted Hearers,” they appear to respond with joy to the “signs” they had seen, but this was not the Saving Faith that God alone could give. So Jesus doesn’t commit to them. Their current faith will produce no harvest. Remember what Jesus said of the rich man who asked that Father Abraham send Lazarus back from the dead, somehow imagining that seeing the sign of a dead man come to life would produce faith in his godless brothers:

“And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house – for I have five brothers – so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead ’” (Luke 16:27-31).

In closing, let me remind my readers that all of us as fallen sinners have “hard-hearts of stone.” God must open our eyes and ears by the Spirit for any of us to believe. Coming to Christ with shallow human joy or because we see signs, does not produce “Saving Faith” without the Spirit working in us. In my next Blog on The Parable of the Soils, we’ll see yet another man who uses the same word: sign, to describe his attraction to Jesus. But since he’s sneaking to see Jesus at night, it appears that this man (Nicodemus) is allowing the “cares of this life” to keep him from fully believing in Jesus as the Lord and Messiah!

Soli Deo Gloria!

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1 Comment

"Either Jesus doesn’t know how to preach the Gospel or something was wrong with their “so-called faith.” It’s definitely the latter.."

I love this. Thank you for shedding light on this.

Matthew 9:37-38 "Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

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